On September 11, 2001, two planes piloted by Islamic terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center—an American symbol of prosperity—killing thousands, injuring thousands more, and exposing the American idols of wealth and politics. Fifteen years later, we are still feeling the ripples of this wickedness, but perhaps the most disturbing aspect is what it has revealed in the hearts of the Church. I am shocked to witness some of the tactless thoughts of fellow believers who are driven by fear on the subjects of Muslims, refugees, and immigration. On one hand, I get it. I was afraid that day the Towers fell. I was anxious for retribution. Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, every Mohamed and Fatima who looked guilty between here and Baghdad? Let’s get ‘em. We’ll show them who’s boss. They won’t mess with us again. “Mission Accomplished.” I cheered from my dorm room.
But, you see, there’s another pronouncement uttered 2,000 years ago: “It is finished.” It is a pronouncement that initiated a Mission that supersedes every other mission. A mission to take a message of Good News to murderers, thieves, liars, and disruptive neighbors, and by Jesus’ account, we are all guilty of the worst of these, (Matt. 5:27-28). (This Good News of salvation must be preceded by the bad news of sin.) We who are holding our picket signs (or memes) higher than the gospel are no better than terrorists. Do we see that? Do we grieve over our sin the way we want to make them grieve over theirs? Do we believe that God can change the hearts of our enemies today and make them into brothers and sisters? Do we believe that we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the . . . spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”? (Eph. 6:12).
If we do, then why do we insist upon preaching such hatred from social media? Would seeing a church-going individual post their thoughts on how people like you should be banned from their city, state, or nation encourage you to join their faith? How is such a view representative of anything Jesus ever taught? Did he say, “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, but first and foremost, destroy them if possible”?
I’ve served among Muslim refugees for more than a decade, and several of my children are Muslim Background Believers (MBB’s). Their extended family members are still practicing Muslims. In terms of adoption, this means that my extended family members are still practicing Muslims—their family is my family. This is personal to me. I’m just going to be brutally honest right here: If your church leaders are posting hateful messages about evil Muslims, lazy African Americans, job-stealing Hispanics, the apparently massive annoyance of having to press 1 for English, etc., my family and I will be unable to worship with you when we’re around. We just can’t. I may be the weaker sister, but I can’t raise my voice and sing to the God of the Nations knowing firsthand that I am surrounded by people who will spend the next week preaching their own sermons from their laptops against the very people I am praying and weeping for. I can’t entrust my children to you during the Sunday School hour. I can’t send them to your Vacation Bible School.
I’m not looking to make friends with this post. I’m not looking to massage egos. I want to see the Kingdom come.
“I found out that I’m not alone,
and there’s plenty of people like me.
I said there’s plenty of people like me.
All outsiders like me.
All unashamed and all unafraid to live out what they supposed to be.